Divorce And The Bible
FAITH INSPIRATION, Reviews, SEX LOVE MARRIAGE

Book Review – Divorce And The Bible – Colin Hamer

I want first to say that Colin Hamer`s book, “Divorce and the Bible” is a book I highly recommend, even though I don`t agree with all of the conclusions in the book. 

It’s not the first time I’ve recommended books I don’t agree with completely. It seems that a book can be good for a number of reasons, only ONE of which is whether or not all the conclusions it draws are entirely accurate. For a book to be ‘good,’ it should make you THINK; it should communicate clearly, state it’s opinion fairly, at least try to give recognition to the issues that people of different persuasions would have with the position. The author should also say “don`t know” when he or she doesn’t know.

“Divorce and the bible” is a worthwhile read because it presents a position not typical in Evangelical Christian circles, but that needs to be considered by those who hold tenaciously to the “2 reasons only” position so often reflected by evangelicals and fundamentalists, such as John MacArthur.

I believe the normal “2-reasons only position” on divorce and remarriage comes up short.

My opinion, by the way, is that this “2 positions only” take on the issue is the easiest one to see by citing simple proof-texts from the scriptures; but that this position only really holds up until the arguments for the position are challenged with issues from the Greek of the New Testament, issues from first century Jewish history and the like. It is also required reading as a reasoned response to some prominent evangelical Christian positions, such as John Piper and Voddie Baucham and their position on the “permanence view” of marriage, such as Daryl Wingerd – Divorce and Remarriage: : A Permanence View.

I have seen, over the years, so many people wounded by the church by other well-meaning Christians who insist that a woman who is in an abusive relationship is not allowed the privilege of entering into a meaningful committed relationship with anyone else, even if divorced, because it is “adultery,” as defined by Jesus (supposedly) in Matthew 5, Matthew 19, Mark 10 and the like. Our understanding on this issue is that Jesus was speaking in hyperbole, and speaking in such irony that it would make the Pharisees furious with him; but these reasons are not clear simply from examining 21st century translations of the Greek texts, and without understanding of the 1st century Jewish culture into which Jesus spoke.

“Divorce and the Bible” is laid out in a series of chapters; each chapter gives a summary of the salient points at the end of the chapter. Then, at the end of the book, are 5 appendices, each dealing with a particular passage of scripture which causes confusion in the discussion.

The salient principles of interpretation of the bible on the issue, as the author sees it:

  • no one passage is the whole teaching on the subject
  • unclear verses must be interpreted by the more clear ones
  • some passages may well have other ideas implied in them because those ideas are clear in other passages
  • where the NT is silent on an issue, it cannot be assumed that the OT can be ignored on the issue
  • nothing can be ruled “out” or “in” based on teaching of any early church fathers or reformers

Good principles.

Salient doctrinal conclusions worth considering (and/or different than the “2 positions” camp)

  • marriage is a covenant with gender-based roles (and different rules apply to men vs women¨)
  • sex without a covenant is NOT marriage
  • marriage is NOT a sacrament, NOT a mystical union
  • Jesus only emphasizes PRINCIPLES, and ONLY answers SPECIFIC QUESTIONS ASKED
  • divorce is NOT necessarily, in and of itself, sinful
  • the rules for grounds for divorce are DIFFERENT for men than for women
  • (in the opinion of the author) a woman may divorce for any number of reasons
  • Jesus did NOT cancel the OT rules on divorce; He ONLY clarified the ones he was ASKED about
  • divorce means both parties are free to remarry, if the divorce is for legitimate reasons
  • remarriage without “grounds” is “adulterous” (violates covenant) but is forgivable

Again, I don’t agree with all the conclusions in the book; but it does make you think. It brings points to the discussion that need to be made – rules are different for men and for women.

Ultimately, I believe that there are two other well-written and well-researched books which need to be considered carefully as helpful background in processing what the bible says to come to a proper conclusion about the issue. These books are..

And Marries Another: Divorce and Remarriage in the Teaching of the New Testament

and

Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context

As well as Brewer’s less technical and more practically-oriented

Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities

Both of these books are worthy opponents to the “2 reasons only” position on divorce and remarriage, and they need to be considered in the mix, because they bring other cultural considerations into the conversation; Brewer’s book, especially, touches on much of the cultural considerations and hypocrisy in the first century that need to be understood to grasp the full picture, and to understand how so much of what Jesus said was challenging (scathing) remarks to the Pharisees of his day, and not necessarily blanket statements on divorce and remarriage.

But ‘Divorce and the Bible’ by Colin Hamer is a worthwhile read because of its own internal consistency; because of its fair presentation of how it fits into the panorama of five or six major positions on the issue of divorce and remarriage; because of the fact that it is well-written, makes you think, answers well how this position answers objections about it raised by the ‘2 positions only’ crowd. People who hold that position, such as John MacArthur and Jay Adams, need to consider these issues raised in the book. Those who hold to the ‘permanence view’ of divorce and remarriage (Voddie Baucham and John Piper, for instance) need to wrestle with some of the issues raised in this book.

It seems so unfortunate that so many well-meaning people want to put other Christians in straight-jackets of theology that God never intended others to wear. This book does a valiant job of bringing worthy points to the discussion, allowing some freedom for believers to see that not everyone believes those straight-jackets need to be worn.

Last updated 2016-01-25

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The founding fathers paid an incredibly high price to sign the declaration of independence
Analysis, FAITH INSPIRATION

Declaration Of Independence: A Valuable Lesson In The High Price Of Bravery, And Why We Should Care

There was a high cost in signing the declaration of independence. Very high, indeed.

At first, that probably sounds a little overblown. Maybe a lot overblown.

But the problem is that there are some things that we take for granted. Or worse yet, we might totally miss them, because of the context in which we learn them.

Seeing this event from a fresh perspective helps to see these men as brave for their time. In the historical context, signing that declaration was actually a potential death sentence.

Dr. Peter McCollough, on his blog, "Courageous Discourse," pointed this out. I actually hadn't thought about it until I read what he had written about it.

Consider what Dr. MrCollough says,

We now look back on the Declaration of Independence with the benefit of knowing that the bold enterprise actually worked out—that is, that the American colonists prevailed in the war against Britain and achieved their independence from the British Crown.
However, at the time the 56 signers actually signed the document (on August 2, 1776), it was FAR from clear that their endeavor would work. In signing their names to the document, they knew they were committing High Treason and were therefore subjecting themselves to being put to death and their property confiscated. The latter penalty was almost as terrible, because most of them (in their thirties and forties) had wives and children who were dependent on them.

Did you ever think of it that way? Or have you always seen a neat and sanitized version of what that event looked like?

I think we miss much of what that was like for them because, like church history, we hear of the polished, "end of the story" version of what happened in that moment.

I think it is difficult for us to grasp what was going on in that room at the time.

And I draw the analogy to how we (many of us, anyway) grow up hearing bible stories as kids, so that, by the time we understand what happened to Jesus on the cross, we've been preconditioned to see it through the lens of it being "temporary," because we already know he rose from the dead.

And, as such, we don't get the full impact.

When Jesus was being crucified, the disciples weren't grasping in that moment that it was temporary. 

Try to grasp the mindset in the room in that moment the framers were signing the declaration.

In 1811, reflecting back on the occasion in a letter to John Adams, the Pennsylvania representative, Dr. Benjamin Rush wrote:

The pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants. The silence and gloom of the morning was interrupted,

I well recollect, only for a moment by Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, who said to Elbridge Gerry at the table, "I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we are all hung for what we are now doing."

"From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead."

This speech procured a transient smile, but it was soon succeeded by the solemnity with which the whole business was conducted.

Brave men. Truly brave men.

Were they flawed men? Of course. We should not pretend they were not flawed.

The founding fathers had slaves.

This doesn't whitewash that. I'm not saying we should overlook the issue of slavery, or the blight it was on our history that it took so long to rid the culture of it.

It seems that many (if not most) of the founding fathers had slaves. But it also seems like they were generally kinder to them than their contemporaries. 

I'm sure there are many things in today's society that will be looked back on (if we are here that long) that will be seen through the lens of history as less than ideal; perhaps even reprehensible.

But that is not what this article is about.

This is about present realities that we often overlook in history, when looking at events in the rear view mirror.

These men were signing a document that effectively put them in direct opposition to Britain - in rebellion, actually - and if history had ended up working out differently, they might have instead been painted as traitors to the government.

The article continues:

As things turned out, none of them were actually put to death for treason, though some were imprisoned and lost their property.
A particularly poignant case was Francis Lewis (1713-1802) of New York. His wife died as an indirect result of being imprisoned by the British, and he lost all of his property on Long Island during the war. When his wife died, Lewis left Congress and completely abandoned politics.

As things have worked out, in today's light, they are seen by most of us as heroes. The history is written by the winning side.

 Whether they were heroes or just men with some blind spots, they were brave men, and were willing to pay a great price for what they believed.

As the article says,

Nowadays, safely ensconced on America’s college campuses, it has become fashionable for professors and students to criticize the signers—and especially the author, Thomas Jefferson—as privileged white men, many of whom owned African slaves.

(And yet, in the end, slavery was abolished, again at a great cost.)

The declaration of independence was signed in 1776. The civil war was fought almost 100 years later. Times were different and circumstances were different.

In 1776, the country was united against a foreign enemy. Almost 100 years later, "the enemy was us." That is, the country was divided and it became a horrible price that would be paid to bring an end to slavery.

Within that 100 year window, there was a lot of bravery, a lot of injustice.

Some of the people who gained their freedom from the tyranny of England were the ones who kept others in tyrannies of their own by owning slaves.

But somehow, I don't think the signers of the declaration would have been the ones opposing freedom for the slaves.

It's just that you can only fight so many wars at a time, or deal with so many blind spots all at once.

And I bring this up today because today is the day this article came across my news feed - coinciding with the 4th of July holiday where Americans celebrate their independence from what was a tyrannical government.

But we have blind spots too.

This weekend is also the weekend that marks the date of the release of a movie about a very different and very horrible kind of slavery: that of the slavery of children in the crime of human trafficking.

It might not be a surprise to my readers that there is this huge, ugly blight on humanity that persists these days.

But for the majority of Americans, they celebrate the Independence Day weekend without much thought to what it cost the founders to establish the United States as a country.

Many also fail to recognize the horrible tyranny that is going on all around them - tyrants who live in the same country, enjoying the same freedom, and yet abusing, enslaving and torturing children.

"Sound Of Freedom" is a movie that was created to draw attention to this horrible, pervasive and almost unspeakable evil going on all around us in this world.

But no matter how horrible, it needs to be spoken about, even at a potential cost.

"Sound of Freedom" is a movie about child trafficking, child sex slavery and the sale of human body parts for profit.

Hopefully (and for many, prayerfully) history will come out quickly on the right side of the children who are being treated as cattle and sex toys and little factories for body parts and adrenochrome suppliers. 

Right now, all the big money is on the side of pretending this isn't really a problem. But in the end, history will be written by those who will have won this battle.

Does our culture have its blind spots? Of course, it does. History repeats itself from time to time.

Ironically, it's hard to identify blind spots because, well..... they're blind spots.

But this is one that some of us can see.

We need to see it, to look it square in the face, to be brave enough to speak out and draw attention to the stunningly large and cancerously horrible problem.

If you don't believe this is a problem, think about this: the movie has been sitting, completely finished and ready to go for three years.

But it has taken this long for the producers of it to be able to bring it to the theaters.

Hollywood and its dark money and power have been fighting the release of this film with everything they've got.

Jim Caviezel and Mel Gibson have been pushing this issue into the media, always as an uphill battle. There are some really evil, rich people who don't want this stuff ever to be known.

Mel Gibson and Jim Caviezel both talk about their reputations, even their lives - being threatened for daring to speak out against this multi-BILLION-dollar child sex trafficking industry.

Do these men have blind spots? Perhaps.

Mel Gibson does, anyway. He's made some disparaging remarks about Jewish people, gotten arrested for drunk driving.

And we can choose to look at his failures, or we can look past that, seeing that in spite of the fact that he is, like many, a flawed man, he is a brave man.

And what about Donald Trump?

Talk about a flawed man. Proud? Brash? Coarse? Yes.

But whether you realize it or not, Donald Trump, since he was running for office, spoke about the swamp and the need to drain it.

Many people (particularly many of the ones who voted for him and pushed so hard to want him re-elected) are well aware that he is well aware of these issues. They are also well aware of what he was doing to try to save these children.

So are they flawed men? Some of them sure are. But they are brave men.

These are all brave men for pushing so very hard against a very rich and powerful entrenchment of evil and abuse of the little ones among us.

Hopefully, now that it's hit the theatres, this movie will be the beginning of a turning point: a point in time where history will be able to look back and say, "that was a horrible, ugly thing that made us all less than fully human."

If you can take the time, please watch this video clip of Jim Caviezel discussing the depth of the problem of this issue that most of us would probably find quite easy to assume "just cannot be."

This video may load slowly. Please give it some time. The servers are often overloaded as people are waking up to this reality, almost all at once, because it has hit a movie screen, and suddenly is becoming "real." Be patient, and please watch this.

What is your life worth? What is the life of those children worth?

Perhaps you're one of many who didn't know this was going on. Now you do. Now, if you say nothing, you are without excuse.

Maybe worse yet, you're among those who have been aware but have been afraid to speak out for fear of backlash, or worse yet, you fear for your safety if you are among the first to speak out.

But if you don't, who will?

Hopefully, someday soon, we will see a world, in unison, saying, "how could that have POSSIBLY gone on for so long? Thank God that is all now behind us."

And maybe someday, Caviezel, Gibson and Trump will be remembered, not merely for their failures, but for the fact that in this, they are true heroes.

See also....
Canada Is Getting Downright Gruesome Regarding Organ Donation
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When God Spoke Greek
FAITH INSPIRATION, NEWS CURRENT EVENTS, Reviews

Book Review – When God Spoke Greek

Sacred cows. We all have them. Some of us are more aware of them than others. And presuppositions. Lots of them. I stumbled lately into a reality that I had been milking some of my own when I read, “When God Spoke Greek: The Making Of The Christian Bible.

Being “schooled” in evangelical/fundamentalist circles for well over 3 decades now, my background as a Christian has always been saturated with clear presuppositions about the word of God as being reliable. I’ve done systematic theology courses at seminary level and interacted with many believers from all walks of life for a long time now. And though my faith has been tested regarding the reliability of God’s word over the decades, time and time again it has consistently proven to be a resting place, a well of fresh living water, as standard by which I am able to measure and gage all other truth.

The subtleties of my understanding of scripture as “God-breathed” have changed.

I have to confess that my understanding of what scripture being “God-breathed” means has been filled out and enriched over the years. Like many things when we first start out learning about them, we have rather simplistic, flat and one-dimensional understandings of ideas and assume the way we hear it taught to us is the way it is.

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FAITH INSPIRATION

When Jesus Shows Up

This is a reprint from "Every Home For Christ," a publication of Francis Frangipane. A Godly man with a love for Jesus.

When Jesus Shows Up

We know the story: the sun has just barely crested the scrubby hills around Jerusalem, but the tomb is already empty when Mary arrives.

Through tears, she sees the gardener. “Please,” she begs, “tell me where you have laid him.”

“Mary,” Jesus replies. (John 20:16)

Jesus stepped into Mary’s pain and confusion. And Mary, history, and the world were never the same. That’s what happens when Jesus enters a story. It’s happening around the world!

Believers go the distance to carry Christ to every person in Myanmar.

Jesus on the Porch

“One day, I was sitting in front of my house,” shares Than Soe, a woman from Myanmar. “A man came to me and shared the gospel with some literature. I took it and read it. I was very interested in these writings about Jesus. So, I asked my sister about Jesus. She took me to her Christian friend. Then he brought me back to the man who had shared literature with me. A pastor named Saw Eh Htoo was also there. He shared the message very clearly with me. At last, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. A few days later, Pastor Saw Eh Htoo baptized me in the river. Now, I am part of a Christ Group fellowship. I have begun to share the gospel with friends. Praise the Lord!”

Like Mary, Than Soe encountered Jesus and hungered for his truth and love. “Take me to the Lord,” she asked. And Jesus entered her life through his people.

Jesus also enters places that are hemmed in by obstacles and steeped in anxiety. The disciples were cowering in an upper room, after all, when through the locked door, Jesus appeared, saying, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

Jesus Amid Our Fears

Mr. R, his wife, and two daughters live in a country where it is risky to share the gospel. Loyal to the traditional beliefs of their ancestors, Mr. R and his family were known to be in strong opposition to the gospel. But their rituals brought them no peace.

Their offerings consumed their savings. And still, life heaped burdens upon them; sickness came to their home. One day, they received a message titled “Why Jesus Died on the Cross.” They called a local believer, and he shared more about Jesus and prayed with them. As he prayed, Mr. R and his family “felt a weight fall from them,” shares our local team. Mr. R’s family turned their hearts toward Jesus and began fellowshipping with a local church the very next day.

When Jesus enters, he brings supernatural peace. He doesn’t demand works or offerings from us. The sacrifice has already been made. He shows up in our homes and lives and opens his hands of mercy to us—just as he stretched out his scarred hands to Thomas (John 20:27)—inviting us to experience his resurrection.

Despite the risks, many people in Creative Access nations are seeking Christ.

Believers in Papua New Guinea carry Christ to their neighbors through hospitality.

Jesus in Our House, Today!

In Papua New Guinea, a group of 30 men and women struggling with drug addiction gathered and invited a local pastor, Emmanuel Kavanamur, and Every Home’s Ministry Director Aaron Nikkie, to tell them more about Jesus. Dorcas, Emmanuel’s wife, and some members of his congregation cooked a big meal to share as Aaron spoke about Jesus’s love.

One of the men present, Robert, and several others responded to the gospel.

“Today,” Robert said, “the Lord Jesus Christ has entered this house and rescued us from the bondage of addiction.”

That’s what we celebrate in the resurrection: today, Jesus has entered our house and rescued us!

Every day, around the world, Jesus enters human lives, bringing resurrection. And often, he touches hearts through believers who faithfully carry his love to their neighbors.

In celebration of the resurrection and Christ’s entrance into your life, will you help equip, empower, and encourage believers around the world as they embody the presence of Christ?

Give Today

The post When Jesus Shows Up appeared first on Every Home.

There are some authors that will leave a mark. Be sure to check out Francis Frangipane's book, "The Three Battlegrounds."

Read More
FAITH INSPIRATION

When Jesus Shows Up

This is a reprint from "Every Home For Christ," a publication of Francis Frangipane. A Godly man with a love for Jesus.

When Jesus Shows Up

We know the story: the sun has just barely crested the scrubby hills around Jerusalem, but the tomb is already empty when Mary arrives.

Through tears, she sees the gardener. “Please,” she begs, “tell me where you have laid him.”

“Mary,” Jesus replies. (John 20:16)

Jesus stepped into Mary’s pain and confusion. And Mary, history, and the world were never the same. That’s what happens when Jesus enters a story. It’s happening around the world!

Believers go the distance to carry Christ to every person in Myanmar.

Jesus on the Porch

“One day, I was sitting in front of my house,” shares Than Soe, a woman from Myanmar. “A man came to me and shared the gospel with some literature. I took it and read it. I was very interested in these writings about Jesus. So, I asked my sister about Jesus. She took me to her Christian friend. Then he brought me back to the man who had shared literature with me. A pastor named Saw Eh Htoo was also there. He shared the message very clearly with me. At last, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. A few days later, Pastor Saw Eh Htoo baptized me in the river. Now, I am part of a Christ Group fellowship. I have begun to share the gospel with friends. Praise the Lord!”

Like Mary, Than Soe encountered Jesus and hungered for his truth and love. “Take me to the Lord,” she asked. And Jesus entered her life through his people.

Jesus also enters places that are hemmed in by obstacles and steeped in anxiety. The disciples were cowering in an upper room, after all, when through the locked door, Jesus appeared, saying, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

Jesus Amid Our Fears

Mr. R, his wife, and two daughters live in a country where it is risky to share the gospel. Loyal to the traditional beliefs of their ancestors, Mr. R and his family were known to be in strong opposition to the gospel. But their rituals brought them no peace.

Their offerings consumed their savings. And still, life heaped burdens upon them; sickness came to their home. One day, they received a message titled “Why Jesus Died on the Cross.” They called a local believer, and he shared more about Jesus and prayed with them. As he prayed, Mr. R and his family “felt a weight fall from them,” shares our local team. Mr. R’s family turned their hearts toward Jesus and began fellowshipping with a local church the very next day.

When Jesus enters, he brings supernatural peace. He doesn’t demand works or offerings from us. The sacrifice has already been made. He shows up in our homes and lives and opens his hands of mercy to us—just as he stretched out his scarred hands to Thomas (John 20:27)—inviting us to experience his resurrection.

Despite the risks, many people in Creative Access nations are seeking Christ.

Believers in Papua New Guinea carry Christ to their neighbors through hospitality.

Jesus in Our House, Today!

In Papua New Guinea, a group of 30 men and women struggling with drug addiction gathered and invited a local pastor, Emmanuel Kavanamur, and Every Home’s Ministry Director Aaron Nikkie, to tell them more about Jesus. Dorcas, Emmanuel’s wife, and some members of his congregation cooked a big meal to share as Aaron spoke about Jesus’s love.

One of the men present, Robert, and several others responded to the gospel.

“Today,” Robert said, “the Lord Jesus Christ has entered this house and rescued us from the bondage of addiction.”

That’s what we celebrate in the resurrection: today, Jesus has entered our house and rescued us!

Every day, around the world, Jesus enters human lives, bringing resurrection. And often, he touches hearts through believers who faithfully carry his love to their neighbors.

In celebration of the resurrection and Christ’s entrance into your life, will you help equip, empower, and encourage believers around the world as they embody the presence of Christ?

Give Today

The post When Jesus Shows Up appeared first on Every Home.

There are some authors that will leave a mark. Be sure to check out Francis Frangipane's book, "The Three Battlegrounds."

Read More
Hillsong Church Doctrinal Problems
FAITH INSPIRATION, Thoughts

Is Hillsong Church New Age?

I’ve gotten so tired of the polarities in the body of Christ. God seems to have enough patience for all of us (including a lot of folks I honestly maybe wouldn’t like). And truth be known, the whole “Hillsong Church is new age” mantra feels so tired and worn.

Let me clarify. I do understand why some take issue with the doctrines of Hillsong Church. It’s just that saying they are “new age” is going way to far.

And I’m not talking about their other potential issues here.

There is a WHOLE LOT going on right now that regards Hillsong. I want to be careful not to defend things that should not be defended.

Polarities that arise over doctrinal differences in the body of Christ are inevitable. The issues are complex. We all bring different presuppositions and experiences to how we try to make sense of what is true and false doctrinally.

Hillsong is like any other church in this regard: doctrinal positions they take tend to be rather polarizing. But it isn’t really the “doctrinal polarization” that I’m concerned about.

My concern is more with the polarizing attitudes in the body of Christ that cause so many to shout “antichrist” about so many other believers who have nothing but good intentions and might just be a little misinformed.

Please understand: Hillsong “Theology Problems” bug me, too.

But If you’re going to hold yourself out to be a voice to the people to lead them from error, then be compassionate. Be compassionate enough to not be angry with those who do not yet hear what you think you have to say.

Be honest enough to recognize when your anger is just about others not acknowledging that you’re right.

It doesn’t do a lot of good to merely take shots at our “doctrinal enemies” simply over doctrinal differences. I’ve learned to speak to ungodly attitudes and separate those from false doctrinal beliefs.

I wish other people could learn to do this.

Look. I get it. I’m definitely not thrilled with all of what they seem to embrace doctrinally, either. I’m just not bothered by everything they say and do, contrary to what seems to come from some of their biggest critics.

And if you want to know specifically what theology they hold to that is “problematic” for me, I’m not going to tell you.

If that is the first place you’re going to go in your head – to try to get a radar-fix on what my doctrinal position is, then I might have a problem with you, too.

If you’re reading with your main focus to see if I’m “on your side” doctrinally, you’re still missing what I’m trying to say here.

There shouldn’t be “sides” in the body of Christ.

We could pretty much avoid doctrine altogether and still have an unfortunate look at what bugs me here about the Hillsong Church phenomenon.

Others have already listed all the “problems” with Hillsong Theology. And I would probably say most of the lists get it wrong anyway.

Besides, I have experienced much in my Christian walk that lines up with what I’ve personally heard in the teachings of Hillsong Church. I’ve also seen their words twisted and butchered before. And THAT is why the whole Hillsong Church controversy just bugs me.

In my opinion, the rest of the church is sometimes the biggest problem with Hillsong church.

Perhaps the fact that I tend to align doctrinally somewhat with them predisposes me to be sensitive to some of their critics.

The fact is that even if I was baptistic-leaning in my beliefs (which I’m not, but rather charismatic) I would still be annoyed with so much of what I see written about Hillsong (and Bethel, and so many churches like them).

So, what are the problems with Hillsong church, anyway?

Do the search for ‘Hillsong church new age’ and see what comes up.

And then ask yourself: does it make you angry? If so, why? Maybe the results make you angry because you have a passion for truth. And “New Age Theology” sure ain’t truth.

The links that come up that annoy me are “The World Finally Seeing Hillsong as new age” and “Why Hillsong Music Is Dangerous For Your Church,” just to name a few.

My issue isn’t that I think they Hillsong is “new age” (because I’m not convinced of that at all, yet). My issue is with so much of these sometimes false accusations about what Hillsong really teaches.

The reason these links bug me is because when I look at the articles that come up in the search, I don’t see much charity there.

Jesus said, “the truth will make you free.” And if you have a prophetic nature about you, you too may be zealous for pointing out the “non-truths” you see and hear to warn people not to be led astray into darkness.

But we are also called to love everyone – especially those of the household of faith.

Does this sound like that? Does this article from “Pulpit and Pen” look loving and kind? Here, they quote from the Hillsong creative team talking about how they try to function harmoniously within the framework of their church leadership, and their response to the idea.

It is so important that as amazing as our creative ideas might be, if they don’t ultimately line up with what our Senior Pastor and leaders want, then we happily put them aside.The church doesn’t exist to build our worship teams… our worship teams exist to build the Church!!

Douglass has made it clear who the Hillsong worship program exists to serve. (Hint: It isn’t Jesus.)

Pulpit and pen

Is this speaking truth in love? (How do you know?)

I’ve been involved with many a baptist church in the past that promotes the idea that God doesn’t appoint boards or committees; He appoints MEN. And if you don’t get in line with the pastor’s vision, get out.

But I’m not sure that “Pulpit and Pen” supports a “brethren model” of the church. So is this about the model, or is this a mixed motive of criticizing the man, and bending theology momentarily to support the prejudice?

I don’t know. And I won’t automatically take shots at the writers at “Pulpit and Pen” because I don’t know their hearts. I’m just not too sure I see them exercising the same kind of tolerance and suspending judgement. It feels like they claim to know other’s hearts in a way that I’m not sure I can.

Or what about this one?

Clearly Houston has no idea what the purpose and function of the church is. While he twists a passage out of Acts 8 in a sorry attempt to prove the church is made up of wicked people, he then states how he loves the fact that his church is full of broken, unrepentant people.

Pulpit and Pen

Maybe this is the way we are called to judge each other? Can we point out what we think are theology issues without crucifying the theologians?

Or how about this one?

While Christians worship Jesus, many people who claim to be Christian today worship what is coined as a ‘moralistic, therapeutic deity’. This ever-changing deity is whatever Hillsong wants this god to be at any given time. Slapping the word ‘Jesus’ on it and claiming to the world they are Christian does not make them Christian, nor a church. It is no wonder why people in their own movement cannot explain what Christianity is nor tell you what the gospel is.

Hillsong Church Watch

You can type in any – any – bible teacher into a google search window with their name followed by the words “false teacher” and see all kinds of bible-thumping, angry church goers taking them to task for being anti-christ.

Charismatics take issue with R. C. Sproul and John MacArthur. Baptist take issue with Joyce Meyers, Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland. Some baptists even take issue with R. C. Sproul!!

And flat-earthers take issue with all of them, based on bible references – even though a lot of flat-earthers don’t even believe a lot of what the bible says about Jesus.

However…

If I can rationalize that the people I have trouble with aren’t Christians, it makes it easier to pick a fight with their doctrine without having to love them while I do.

I get this, too. We all want to be sure we are “doctrinally sound.” Paul spoke of the need for solid doctrine and warned against “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” “false teachers” and “doctrines that tickle the ear.”

Regarding the whole problem of corruption in the leadership of Hillsong Church, I’m not qualified (yet) to speak to whether or not this is the case. Perhaps there are some among the leadership and staff at Hillsong who are corrupt.

But…

If we don’t learn to separate our differences over doctrines from our differences with those who teach those doctrines, we might do more damage than good to the body of Christ.

Again, I’m not defending everything that might be going on with the leadership at Hillsong Church.

But having people in your church who “cannot explain what Christianity is nor tell you what the gospel is” – who cannot (yet) clearly articulate their understanding of the nature of God or the trinity – doesn’t automatically mean that the church is teaching “whatever Hillsong wants this god to be at any given time.”

It might mean that your church is growing and full of new members who have encountered Jesus and just haven’t learned to articulate all of what that means yet.

And that might just be a good thing. It just might mean your church is actually growing and that you’re not just preaching to the choir anymore. You’re actually preaching to new believers who aren’t going to get it all in the first 72 hours.

You see, when Paul spoke against false teachers as wolves in sheep’s clothing, he was talking about people who “knew better,” who he plainly knew to be in it for selfish gain; people whose gods were their bellies, and their appetites their shame.

Maybe you think you can read people’s hearts and motives like that. I know I need to allow more benefit of the doubt before I decide whether this is all about “selfish gain” in the hearts of Hillsong staff.

But maybe you’re more prophetic than I am. Whatever.

Quite frankly, I that the charges of Hillsong Church being “New Age” are ridiculous and overblown.

Now, maybe I’m wrong.

I know I’ve been wrong before. But so have you.

And that’s ok. We all grow and (hopefully) change our opinions over time. Even if the core ideas remain the same over time, our perspectives should become richer as we age.

And, hopefully, our attitudes become more charitable toward others who we think are messed up and confused. It’s not what I see on some of the websites I read on some of these posts.

You might be wrong now, too.

Do you keep this reality in mind as you interact with others who believe differently than you?

We all have to start somewhere. And as iron sharpens iron, as I see things with the openness to having my beliefs challenged by others who think differently, I’ve learned a lot and changed my views, SPECIFICALLY because I was open to the idea that I might be wrong.

And do you correct those you see as wrong in love? Can you say you are “on your knees in your heart” for those you criticize, praying for them to see truth as you do? Or do you enjoy being critical of them?

Are you guilty of wanting to rain down fire and brimstone from heaven to consume these “false teachers” you’re so bent about?

Thirty years ago, the Hillsong Theology problems that I see now would have creeped me out.

But then, thirty years ago, I thought I knew everything.

Thirty years ago, I would have been downright annoyed with some of the teachers at Hillsong because of what I consider “bad doctrine.”

But thirty years ago, my truth might not have had much “love” in it.

I would like to think that with my age comes some wisdom. Among the things I’ve come to see is the reality that doctrine shouldn’t be a contact sport within the church. I see so many of these articles written with unnecessary roughness toward other people who only mean well but might be a little misguided on some things.

The brother or sister in Christ who has wonky theology is not your enemy.

Yeah. I suppose there are a few things I might take exception to with HIllsong Church when it comes to their theology. But to be honest, I think that I, like you, probably find I don’t agree doctrinally with ANYONE 100%.

Part of our problem as believers is that as we hang out with like-minded people. I guess that’s not the problem, in and of itself. But what comes as a result of doing that is that we tend to avoid hanging out with (and INTERACTING) with people think differently than we do.

Do yourself (and the doctrinal “other guy”) a favour and get to really know someone you disagree with.

If you’re a good, solid bible-believing Baptist, get to know someone who is a fan of Hillsong Church, or Bethel, or some other similar church. And learn to listen to them. Give them room to share their experiences with you and hear their heart.

Our human nature is to want to avoid conflict and to avoid conversations that make us angry. But sometimes, we need to have our ideas challenged to discover WHY we believe as we do. And if we only hang out with people who think like us, there are some vast areas in our ways of thinking that never get challenged with any “mental fibre,” so to speak, to help us examine ourselves to see if we are aligned with what is true.

And if you’re a fan of Hillsong Church, try to get to know a good Baptist or Presbyterian and do the same.

You just might be amazed at just how much passion and how much “Holy Spirit” you find in that “mainline denominational Christian” person you’ve always thought to be spiritually lifeless and stiff.

You might actually find that you still think those people who were wrong before are wrong now. But they might still teach you a thing or two, too.

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Spiritual Apathy
FAITH INSPIRATION, Revival

We Have Been Comfortable For So Long

“If the world hated me, it will hate you, too.” (John 15:18)

Our 21st century, North American culture is a veritable “freedom utopia” for Christians, at least as far as it compares to the rest of the world. (So far, anyway. It appears that voters in the US signed themselves on for some drastic changes in the last number of years; Canada has recently joined the fray with the young, boyish, idealistic and inexperienced Trudeau junior, and it’s going to change the political and “political-correctness” landscape very quickly, and for a bunch into the future. I wish them luck.)

IT WAS SO GOOD, FOR SO LONG

Christians have long been imprisoned, tortured and killed for their faith in other societies, both throughout history and in our modern world. Christians in China, not too long ago in Soviet Russia, and currently and in other places like North Korea suffer persecution and abuse at the hands of atheistic tormenters who hate Christianity and want to wipe every trace of it from their cultures. And these communists see the torture and abuse of other people as a necessary evil to rid the world of the fantasies of religion.

From a Christian perspective, Europe is in shambles, falling fast to the influences and the dominance of Islam. Places like Denmark and Norway are overrun by Muslims dominating the culture. The police in Oslo, for instance, will tell you that they have lost the city to the Muslims. Churches in England lay dormant and are selling on a regular basis to Muslim groups who are turning them into mosques and Islamic outreach centres.

NORTH AMERICA MAY WELL GO THE WAY OF EUROPE

Here in North America, we seem to be on the downward slide in many ways. We have been living on the fruit of our forefathers faith and relative spiritual righteousness for some time; but the fruit is rotting on the vine. The influence of political correctness has overrun the political system. And people (the majority of them, anyway) have abandoned a biblical world view. The fringe elements (as measured by their percentages in the population) have screamed the loudest, and politicians, for whatever reason (whether through ignorance or a wish to satisfy the loudest screamers to maintain their hold on power) have catered to the 3% minority at the expense of the other 97%, with the result that we are in a mudslide toward a moral abyss.

Gay rights and other special-interest groups are finding ways to have their proclivities entrenched in law, with the end result that people are effectively being muzzled from even having a legal right to speak freely to the fact that they believe what these groups are doing is immoral. It is now labelled “hate speech” to say that you think what they are doing is wrong, even if you try to tell them with the best of intention and with concern for their soul because of a biblical world view.

THERE ARE POCKETS OF REVIVAL, POSSIBILITIES FOR OUR FUTURE

Not all is lost. God is on the move. There are places where the church is exerting influence in the culture. There are churches and Christian groups that are taking it upon themselves to go to city and state capitols, simply to be present there to pray for the leadership of the cities and states. It is not with an agenda to evangelize; it is to lift these people up and bathe them in prayer because of their responsibility to govern wisely.

South Korea is a majority-Christian population. One of the fastest growing churches, according to some statistics, is the church in Iran. Christianity seems to flourish in countries where persecution runs high; pain drives us to our knees, and so, in times of desperation, the church grows strong with the Spirit of Christ moving them to selfless love and hearts of worship and praise. But that only explains Iran. The current church in South Korea is not because of persecution, but because of prayer, in spite of their freedom, but because of their zeal.

Here in North America, there are churches that are burgeoning at the seams because they were incubated and bathed in prayer. If you stop in for a visit on a Sunday morning at Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York, you will be blown away at the passion these people have for praise and worship. They are over-the-top in love with Jesus, and the hands are raised and the faces are joyful, even at the back of the auditorium, even from the very first song. And they’re not in a hurry to leave that service early, either.

There are churches like Bethel in Redding, California that are mega-centers of revival and outreach, seeing miracles taking place, reaching their communities and seeing the miraculous, seeing lives changed, seeing people coming to Christ on a regular and consistent basis.

However, it is critical that we do not miss this point:

WE HAVE SO FAR MISSED THE CRITICAL MASS TO TURN THIS SHIP AROUND

Many in the North American church seem to feel that if we can just get the right guy in the Oval Office, we can get legislation in place to stop the moral decay in the country. It is true that when people do not live holy lives within the liberty that the Lord provides, it is necessary to restrain lawlessness from the outside, lest people who are self-serving and bent on evil will make the world a bad place for those who will be taken advantage of.

But there have been pro-life presidents in the White House over the last number of decades, on and off. And yet, they have never had the political capitol and/or the political will to force sufficient change through the courts and/or through the legislature to turn that ship around. Millions of babies have been sacrificed on the altar of convenience over the years since Roe vs. Wade, and there doesn’t seem to be much standing in the way of that. Republican presidents haven’t done much more about that than democratic ones. The same record has happened in Canada. For all the years there was a conservative prime minister in parliament, abortion laws never changed to where it became illegal to kill a baby in the womb.

Our country is divided because the heart of the people is divided. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes, and not many are willing or even interested in voting for the greater good of the society in general rather than voting on the basis of “what’s in it for me.”

The bottom line is these problems will not be fixed in our courts and legislatures but on our knees.

If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chr. 7:14)

But it will take a LOT of prayer – the kind of prayer that breaks us out of our complacency, our self-serving, our desire for ease, comfort, safety and security. As goes the Church, so goes the culture in which it blooms (or withers and dies).

Be the change. Be the church.

And if we, as the church, do not learn to take seriously our calling to prayer and to holiness, God will not be stopped from conforming us to His image. He may just end up using the pain and suffering of persecution to put us there. Either way, God will have His way in us, if we want Him to move.

(Last updated by The Cognitive Man – 2016-07-09)
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If we should have to die for our faith
FAITH INSPIRATION, Inspiration

If We Should Have To Die For Our Faith

No one is beyond saving.

That was the headline in a recent story from YWAM (Youth With A Mission) about an ISIS fighter who came to Jesus after a dream he had, in which Jesus said to him, “you’re killing my people.” Nabeel Quereshi (author of the book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus“) talks in that book about how God often speaks to muslims in dreams and visions.

We all know and admire who “The Apostle Paul” is. But sometimes we gloss over what “Saul of Tarsus” was like before he was confronted by Jesus in a vision. When you read the story in the book of acts about how Paul was saved, it is easy “skip on by,” and ignore the fact that Saul was a murderer and a chief persecutor of the church when this happened. It’s not that we deny it, or even that aren’t aware of it. But we move past it quickly. After all, we see how Paul turned out in the end, so we see that moment through the lens of a Christian eternity. Yes. He was a murderer. But God worked in it.

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FAITH INSPIRATION, feed

City, County, World


In the early years of New Song Church, we identified that we have a strategic mission to people in poverty. We wrestled with understanding whether we were to be a church or a street mission and came to a hybrid understanding that said yes to both.

 

 

New Song Church Is a Church with The Heart of a Mission.

 

We Are a People That God Has Prompted to Become Advocates, Mentors and Family for The Urban Poor in Windsor, This Region and Beyond. 

 

Our Mission Is to Express the Unconditional Love of Jesus Through Worship, Truth-telling, Acts of Kindness, and Guiding Relationships.

 

 

Yes, we are a local church congregation. Yes, we have the heart of a street mission. It was never meant to be either/or. We are called to be a church that aligns with the poorest, most vulnerable, and most disadvantaged.

 

I want to expand on the phrase, ‘the urban poor in Windsor, this region and beyond.’ Why the focus on the urban poor?

 

·      If the gospel is for everyone, why limit our attention to the poor?

 

·      If our mission is to the poor, does that mean that we have no focus on the middle class or the rich?

 

This was a preponderance for many in the early days since we have usually had a range of people on the edge of homelessness, the working poor, middle class, and a scattering of people that would be considered upper middle class.

 

It’s my belief that the good news of Christ’s Kingdom is for all – the very rich, the very poor and all in between. Some may have wondered if a focus on the poor was too exclusive and perhaps more focus on everyone else would bring some kind of balance to our ministry. Maybe if we tried harder to appeal to richer people, we would have more money to help the poor.

 

That was of course a shallow perspective. The truth is that a mission statement says that there are essential values that we hold onto in order to be faithful to what God has given us to do. We do not despise or discriminate against those who are wealthier but invite them to join us in the noble pursuit.

 

Jesus gave an invitation to the rich, young ruler to give what he had to the poor. That man walked away in sorrow, because it was more important to him that he had wealth and personal power.

 

Others with wealth have heard Jesus ask them the same thing and determined to follow Jesus by funding the mission of God and being personally involved. They heard Jesus say that the poor will always be with you, and they accepted that as an honour, not an unsolvable annoyance.

 

 

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FAITH INSPIRATION, feed

Why You Need To Be Outward Bound


There is a myth that only people that have had similar tragedies can be effective in helping others. The idea is that a recovering addict is the only one who can help a recovering addict. Or a victim of abuse can only help a victim of abuse.

 

A person’s tragedies can be transformed by God into empathy, compassion, and discernment but, you do not have to live the same as those you befriend and help.

 

While there are often good examples of this peer support, it is reductive to say that only the sick can help the sick, the poor can help the poor and the sinners can help the sinners. In order to rise above a trauma-informed mindset, we need help from above. We need mentors, teachers and friends that show us another path.

 

It is the maturing work of God and the love of Christ in someone that equips them to be advocates, mentors and family to the dispossessed. The mission of God will often involve going from the people most like myself to the ones I think are least like me.

 

 

Acts 1:

Then They Gathered Around Him And Asked Him, “Lord, Are You At This Time Going To Restore The Kingdom To Israel?”

He Said To Them: “It Is Not For You To Know The Times Or Dates The Father Has Set By His Own Authority. But You Will Receive Power When The Holy Spirit Comes On You; And You Will Be My Witnesses In Jerusalem, And In All Judea And Samaria, And To The Ends Of The Earth.”

 

 

In verses six and seven, there is a presupposition that God will bring about a Kingdom where his people are given special prominence and power. That is how Israel heard the promises of God. I would hazard to say that this is how some Christians still think; that we will have special prominence and power in the eyes of the world around us.

 

However, Jesus does not satisfy the one whose primary interest is having an advantage over others.

 

We should be wary of those that preach a message of empire in God’s Name. Nationalism is not part of the mission of God. God’s plan through Jesus is to fill us with the Holy Spirit and begin an outward journey to the ends of the earth.

 

Your primary identity is found in God. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives gives the impetus to enter the mission of God.

 

It starts in the city of Jerusalem and moves out to the county of Judea. Then the mission goes to the neighbouring people group and on to the ends of the earth. Does that mean that everyone on mission goes the greatest possible distance? Individually you need to know how far God wants to extend you, but together we should go as far as possible.

 

One person cannot go everywhere to everyone, so we are reminded that the mission is a shared vision. Each part of the body has a different function, and the unifying connection makes room for a far-reaching mission. We are united by the empowering Holy Spirit and by a mature love for every member.

 

Mission Canada[1]uses a chart that helps us contextualize the Great Commission we find in Acts 1:8. From where we find ourselves, we see the progressive nature of the vision to take us from the nearest to furthest, and most similar to most different.

 

 


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